The Los Angeles Lakers are the latest team to suffer from a ton of positive COVID-19 cases. This has caused multiple players to be in and out of the rotation, which has affected the team’s depth. But on Wednesday, the Lakers’ lack of guard depth might have been a blessing in disguise. Frank Vogel decided to give more minutes to rookie Austin Reaves, who played in crunch time and hit the most important shot of the night for the purple and gold. 


Reaves, who was signed as an undrafted rookie for the Lakers, has shown a ton of potential since Summer League action. He has been dubbed as the next Alex Caruso (the role player the Lakers adored for years), but his game is actually different compared to the Chicago Bulls guard. It’s Reaves’ IQ, attention to detail, chemistry with superstar LeBron James and ability on both ends of the floor that has helped him stand out amongst the guards on this roster. The fact that he was in the closing lineup in Thursday’s game is another proof that he is indeed a steal and should actually be starting games. 

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Why Austin Reaves should start for Los Angeles Lakers

1. Reaves provides spacing 

The Lakers’ common starting lineup of Anthony Davis-James-Talen Horton Tucker-Avery Bradley and Russell Westbrook does not optimize the team’s spacing at all, and this significantly affects the Lakers’ offense. If Reaves starts over Bradley or even THT, the spacing improves since he’s a 39% shooter from deep. He’ll also compete on defense even if he still needs to physically build some muscle. Reaves is not the type of guy to back down, and what’s even better is that he can make contributions on offense. 

2. Reaves has good chemistry with the Big 3

If you’ve watched most Lakers games, it seems like the team has a knack for starting slow. They tried to solve that by demoting DeAndre Jordan out of the starting lineup (which has worked) and sliding Davis to the 5, but as mentioned above, spacing issues have weakened the team’s ball movement and spacing issues. Starting Reaves could be another way to strengthen the offense because of his chemistry with James, Westbrook and Davis. 

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Just look at the following stats:

Reaves + James on the floor (278 possessions) +16.2 with an offensive rating of 117.6 and defensive rating of 101.4

Reaves + James + Westbrook (153 possessions): +16.6 with an offensive rating of 113.5 and defensive rating of 96.9. 

Reaves + James + Davis + Westbrook (48 possessions): +45.5 with an offensive rating of 127.1 and defensive rating of 81.6. 

3. Reaves won’t back down on defense

Yes, he’s going to get outrun on defense at times or even overpowered, but the rookie fears nobody. It’s the reason why he has come so far. Reaves is a proven gym rat and a humble player who just wants to go out there and compete. His IQ and attention to detail have helped him flourish playing Vogel’s defensive schemes, which helps relieve the workload off Davis and James. If there’s a glue guy on this Lakers roster, it’s for sure this kid from Arkansas. 

Just start Austin Reaves, Frank.